Advent Calendar 2005

Index | November:27th | 28th | 29th | 30th | December: 1st | 2nd | 3rd | 4th | 5th | 6th | 7th | 8th | 9th | 10th | 11th | 12th | 13th | 14th | 15th | 16th | 17th | 18th | 19th | 20th | 21st | 22nd | 23rd | 24th | Christmas |

Day One : 27th November

27 November 2005

Keep Awake! Keep watch! (The end of the World?)
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Prepare ye the way of the Lord
1. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God

Prepare ye the way of the Lord
2. Fill ev'ry valley bring all mountains low

Prepare ye the way of the Lord
3. Go up to a mountain and shout with a loud voice

Prepare ye the way of the Lord
4. Say to all people, here is your God.

And from a talk given by the Rt Revd James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, at the conference Jesus and the earth: the Gospel and the future of the environment. 8th February 2003, University of Gloucester:

In this talk, Bishop Jones quoted Gerard Manley Hopkins and his poem "God's Grandeur"

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Bishop Jones writes:

"Forgiveness presupposes judgement. The authority of the Son of Man to forgive sins on earth assumes that the earth and its people are under some form of divine judgement. This is a theological idea which is out of fashion in many church circles although it is bedded in the imagination of popular attitude with the question "Well, if there is a God, why doesn’t he do something about the state of the world". There is an expectation that God will discern between good and bad, divide the people and act against those and that which is evil. Herein lies an aspiration for a God of justice to judge. I have often said that if we press the question and the hope for God to act in such a way, who, do we imagine, would be left? Such a longing for justice leaves us hoping for mercy. We look to God to be both Judge and Saviour. This notion that the earth and its people live under some experience of judgement is strongly felt by environmental lobbyists who daily point to the result of abusive human exploitation of the planet and to the ecological crisis now upon us. Crisis is the Greek word for judgement. When the media broadcast the headline "Environmental Crisis" they are declaring to the world a truth greater than we realise. We are reaping what we sow. This is the crisis, the judgement: "Do not be deceived" wrote Paul "God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow" (Galatians 5)."

"Turning to the Gospel of John we are arrested by the declaration: "All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being". This is a confessional statement about the Word who is Jesus. This is echoed through the primary chapters of Colossians, Ephesians and Hebrews. Colossians 1 v16 "For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible……… all things have been created through him and for him". Never has so much theology hung on two such small prepositions. It is these credal statements that lead to a high view of creation. It is the gift of Christ. Respect for and reverence of the earth follows as it does for the whole of the created order contained in that small "all". This distinctively Christian insight ought to shape and form a Christian’s attitude to the environment. Creation does not exist for the human family but for Christ. The earth is here for us to delight in, to manage, to serve but its centre is inhabited by Christ alone and not us. It is a blasphemy to usurp Christ’s place. When critics of Christian attitudes to the environment such as Lyn White have lambasted us for elevating ourselves over the rest of creation and exploiting it by our own devices for our own desires they have been right to challenge such anthropocentrism. The Bible dethrones such ambitions and affirms the centrality of Christ not just to salvation but also to creation."

In John 12 we read "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people/all things to myself. He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered … "How can you say the Son of Man must be lifted up?" Here again the Son of Man is found in the same context as the earth and is cast again in the role of the one who will draw all to himself. Echoes again of Colossians: "And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven by making peace through the blood of his cross". The Son of Man's mission is one of connectedness with the earth. Jesus self consciously sees himself on a mission through which he should lose nothing of what has been given to him. "I have come down from heaven (to earth?) not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me" (John 6 v39). Jesus has the whole cosmos in his sights, not just individual souls who want to escape earth and bag a place elsewhere. The earth is within the cosmos.